Gonzalo Sanchez

Mentor | The Brandery

Kelly Smith works at CourseFinder. She’s interested in new online marketing tools and social media marketing. She’s keen on work-life balance and healthy work environments.

Just because infographics are all the rage now, with their popularity likely to continue to increase, doesn’t mean that all marketers know what makes up for a great infographic. In fact, some of them get it completely wrong. Here are 7 cardinal sins of transforming your data into an infographic – read them carefully and you’ll be on your way to creating truly engaging visual content for your brand.

1. The structure of your infographic is confusing

Even if you have the most interesting data on the web within your reach, presenting it in a confusing layout will deter anyone from giving your infographic more than a glance. A common mistake, for instance, is using too many colors.

If you use colors sparingly and focus on shades, you’ll be able to create a visual hierarchy in your infographic that will serve to improve user comprehension of the data. If you decide to use a different color for every single element in your infographic, you’ll only confuse viewers who won’t be able to decipher the correct order or importance of your data.

The worst phone infographic

2. Lack of references to your data sources

This is a mistake we see made over and over again. To make your infographic authentic and credible, you simply must cite all your references at the very bottom of your layout, even if there are a lot of them. Internet users won’t be impressed if they don’t see a reliable source.

3. Using data sources of dubious authority

The web is full of interesting facts about everything, but there’s nobody curating this content. That’s why many brands fall victim to inaccuracies – just think about Enliven and their otherwise powerful infographic about rape. Use reputable sources – serious research from academic journals or commercial analytics providers. Always perform fact checking and confirm them by consulting two independent sources.

Inaccurate infographic
The inaccurate infographic the article refers to.

4. Visual exaggeration of statistics

Some infographics exaggerate their graphs to create a misleading effect. Make sure that your visuals accurately reflect the scale of your data, so your viewers aren’t misled into thinking that a data point rose dramatically while in fact it rose only by a small margin.

Misleading infographic

5. You refer to too much data

Another common problem is referring to a large amount of data that is difficult to transform into visual content – even if you manage to do it, it’s hard to understand anyway. The attention span of your viewers is limited, so don’t make your infographic too long – 8,000 pixels is about as long as you want to go. Control the load time too – your infographic should weigh no more than 1.5MB.

6. Your graphs are visually incorrect

Mind your graphs, please. If a statistic says 77%, your graph shouldn’t fall below three quarters – we’ve seen it done here and there, so these kinds of mistakes do happen. Make sure that someone checks your infographic before you post it online – viewers will instantly spot the problem and question your professionalism.

Poor representation of data.

7. Your data is too complex or superficial

Infographics should be based on a simple idea that takes one sentence to explain (bad example). Simplicity can be powerful. Consider your idea from this perspective as well – are you providing unique and in-depth information? Don’t just scratch the surface, but dig deeper and then reflect your expertise in the visual composition of your infographic.

State of the USA Infographic
An fantastic example of what’s described above.

Infographics are a powerful visual content tool and shouldn’t be treated as just a pretty picture. If you want your infographic to engage consumers, just make sure to avoid these common mistakes committed by many content managers, and you’ll improve your infographic’s chance of gaining genuine traction, or even going viral.

Kelly Smith works at CourseFinder. She’s interested in new online marketing tools and social media marketing. She’s keen on work-life balance and healthy work environments.